History

Behind every successful man…

We’ve all heard of Martin Luther, right? And no, I am not talking about that inspiring leader and awesome demagogue who spoke that immortal line “I have a dream” – I am rather referring to the man for whom he was named, a German priest born in 1483. That Martin Luther was one of the …

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Torn asunder – of Finland and its history

So I was taking the opportunity of a lull in the meeting to bore my colleagues with yet another historical tidbit. Okay, maybe not bore, as I do try to present my favourite moments in history in an entertaining manner, involving a lot of posturing, multiple voices and general enthusiasm, but in a group of …

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It’s a man’s world

…or so, at least, Ulrika Eleonora Stålhammar must have reasoned when she decided to leave her feminine self behind and instead become a man. And not any old man, either, no Ulrika Eleonora decided to go all in and become a soldier. Okay, so none of the above is truly remarkable in this day and …

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Ode to the bulb – an abbreviated tulip history

When I was a child, tulips were mostly yellow flowers my mother bought around Easter. Sometimes, they were red, and now and then my mother would receive a bouquet of pink tulips with mimosa (good combo, that), but mostly they were yellow. I never buy yellow tulips. I go wild and crazy with pink and …

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Sleeping your way to the top…

… is not a recommended approach to career building. But it has proven itself quite effective through history, and in societies where talented and intelligent women were restricted by their gender from pursuing a career under their own steam, what was a young girl to do? After all, if you can’t be the power on …

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In Pursuit of a Dream

In the 1930’s, several hundreds of Swedish people left their homes in the far north of their country and set off for the Promised Land. Not, as one could think, some sort of belated Zionist movement making for Palestine. No, these people were making for Karelia – in the Soviet Union. In retrospect, it is …

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One strong Mama – of a queen and her children

Some weeks ago, I wrote a post about Gustav II Adolf, our Swedish hero king. Today I thought we’d spend some time with his mother, a most capable lady – so capable she was as a matter of course included in the council when important matters were to be discussed. Whatever other faults her husband, …

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The bloodied shirts of a dead king

They found him in the aftermath of the Battle of Lützen, 382 years ago today. His looted body was naked except for the three knee length linen shirts he had worn as protection against the cold. What little hair he had left was stuck to his skull, covered in blood and gore. There, in the …

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Say What? Lots of Languages in Charlemagne’s Realm.

I have a thing about languages. So much, in fact, that I would warn you from ever initiating a conversation about the subject, as chances are you’ll be quite bleary-eyed by the time I finish my little lecture about the Indo european languages. Turns out, I am not alone in my fascination for languages, and …

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When they Begin the Beguine – of radical religion in the 13th century

In 1310, a little old lady was tied into place at the stake and the faggots at her feet were lit. Did she pray? Lock her eyes on the infinite blue of the June sky above? Whatever the case, Marguerite Porete went up in flames, as silent and obdurate in her moment of death as …

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